Alex Brew, Regional Director, Northern Europe for Vertiv, explains why prefabricated modular data centres are set to become the default approach not just for the enterprise, but also hyperscale and the edge of the network.
The digital age is ushering in a new era of technological advancements and unprecedented demand for data processing and storage. In this rapidly evolving landscape, data centres play a pivotal role as the nerve centres of our interconnected world. To meet the escalating needs of hyperscalers, enterprises and digital services, data centres are undergoing a transformative shift towards efficiency and adaptability.
One key driving force behind this transformation is the widespread adoption of standardised construction practices in the form of prefabricated modular data centres. These innovative solutions offer a host of benefits, revolutionising the way data centres are designed, built and operated. From modular components to fully-fledged prefabricated facilities, standardisation is becoming the preferred approach across the industry, empowering data centre operators to optimise performance, scalability and sustainability.
Understanding standardisation versus localisation
Before we look at the specific benefits of this approach, it’s important to understand the subtle differences between standardisation and localisation. While both approaches contribute to the efficient and effective deployment of data centres, they embody distinct considerations and implications.
Standardisation revolves around the concept of uniformity and consistency. It entails the adoption of predefined designs, components and practices that can be replicated across different deployments. By embracing standardisation, data centre operators can deliver a streamlined and consistent experience in terms of infrastructure, functionality and operational processes. This approach enables seamless integration with existing systems and facilitates efficient scalability.
On the other hand, localisation emphasises customisation and adaptation to regional requirements and preferences. It’s particularly relevant for regions like Asia-Pacific, where regulations vary significantly. It recognises that different geographic locations may have unique building codes, regulations and environmental considerations that impact data centre operations. Localisation allows for the modification and customisation of standardised designs to align with specific regional needs, enabling compliance and optimal functionality in diverse market landscapes.
It’s important to consider the environmental impacts of the processes. And, as efficiency and sustainability continue to be prominent topics across all regions within EMEA, hyperscalers are exploring how data centres can benefit local communities, such as utilising waste heat for district heating. Incorporating sustainable materials and manufacturing methods into prefabricated solutions will also help to strike a better balance in the future.
What are the benefits?
The rise of prefabricated modular data centres is driven by the need for quick scalability, easy deployment and operational efficiency. These modular designs integrate critical components, including advanced cooling systems and power distribution, within controlled factory conditions. The accelerated construction timeline achieved through off-site fabrication and assembly allows for rapid deployment and commissioning. This expedited deployment enables businesses to quickly respond to changing needs, such as sudden increases in data processing requirements or the establishment of new locations.
Prefabricated modular data centres have a positive impact on Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) and the reduction of physical footprint. The modular nature of these data centres enables organisations to scale their infrastructure in line with demand, avoiding overprovisioning by utilising modular Uninterruptable Power Supplies (UPS) and cooling systems that can be expanded as the IT load increases over time.
Prefabricated modular data centres can also be delivered with security already in place. As the units are constructed off-site and then transported to the final location, security measures can be implemented during the manufacturing process. This means that from the day of delivery, the data centre is equipped with the necessary security features, safeguarding critical infrastructure and sensitive data. By integrating security during the initial construction phase, operators can avoid potential vulnerabilities or delays associated with retrofitting security measures after the data centre is installed. This proactive approach enhances the overall reliability and integrity of the data centre, providing peace of mind to the operators and mitigating risks from the outset.
From a time perspective, modular data centres allow for parallel building works to be undertaken while the unit is being constructed off-site. This parallel construction approach saves time and increases efficiency, as various components and systems can be fabricated simultaneously. For example, electrical and mechanical works can progress alongside the construction of the modular unit, reducing overall project duration. Furthermore, design and installation can be certified by an independent body in the factory before dispatch, certifying compliance with industry standards and regulations. Operators can also test and inspect the data centre at the factory before it is dispatched, to check quality and functionality.
Maintenance processes are also simplified, resulting in improved serviceability and reduced downtime – crucial to operators and the customers they serve. The modular approach makes ongoing maintenance and repairs more efficient, as replacement parts are readily available and troubleshooting is streamlined. By minimising service issues and optimising maintenance procedures, data centre operators can enhance operational reliability.
A brighter future ahead
In conclusion, the rising demand for digital services necessitates the data centre industry’s embrace of innovative solutions to effectively meet the evolving needs of businesses and consumers. Prefabricated modular data centres have emerged as a significant force in this transformative landscape, offering the potential to revolutionise the way data centres are designed, constructed and operated.
The power of prefabricated modular data centres lies in their ability to deliver accelerated deployment timelines, cost savings and improved operational efficiency through standardised construction practices. By adopting modular components and predefined building blocks, organisations can streamline their operations, enhance scalability and optimise resource utilisation.
Finally, the concept of localisation plays a crucial role, enabling data centre deployments that adhere to regional regulations and preferences. Striking the right balance between standardisation and localisation helps successful implementation across different territories, allowing organisations to navigate diverse regulatory landscapes and capture competitive advantages.